Delivery executives with Indian foodtech unicorn Swiggy in Hyderabad have announced an indefinite strike from Tuesday (September 15) to protest against low wages.
In a press release issued by the Indian Federation of App-based Transport Workers (IFAT) national general secretary Shaik Salauddin, the delivery executives working with the company have alleged that during the Covid-19 lockdown, Swiggy reduced minimum earnings per order from INR 35 to INR 15. Further, the delivery executives have claimed that since the lockdown began, the company removed its performance-based monthly incentives of up to INR 5,000.
The press release states that the reduction in wages for delivery executives has come even as the company continues to charge INR 35 as delivery charges to the customers. Some of the other grievances listed by the delivery executives in their press release are lack of appropriate compensation for their waiting time at the restaurants while the order is being prepared, and wages of as low as INR 10 per order for the second delivery in a batch order. In a batch order, delivery executives have to make more than one delivery in a single trip.
“During the lockdown and even as COVID-19 cases continue to increase, delivery executives risk their lives to deliver food and provide essential services to the customer.
The government on other hand is increasing the fuel price repeatedly. Even in this situation of a rise in virus cases and petrol prices, Swiggy has reduced our earning structure,” reads the IFAT press release.
“Even though we are delivering food to the customers we are unable to take food to our own homes and families. Therefore, we are forced to go on indefinite strike. We will continue the strike until our demands are met,” says the press release, also urging labour and transport authorities to intervene and restore the previous payout structure.
Accordingly, the delivery executives in Hyderabad have demanded that Swiggy introduce a new wage structure, whereby, they be paid INR 10 per km for deliveries within 0-4 km, INR 15 per km for deliveries within 4-8 km and INR 25 per km for deliveries to be made by travelling more than 8 km. They’ve also demanded the restoration of performance-based monthly incentives, as well as stoppage on assigning orders to third-party companies such as Shadowfax, a B2B last-mile delivery service provider, and Rapido, an online bike taxi aggregator, as this reduces the earning potential of Swiggy’s delivery executives.
A Swiggy spokesperson told Inc42 that claims made by the protesting workers in Hyderabad are untrue. “Most delivery partners in Hyderabad make over INR 45 per order, with the highest performing partners making over INR 75 per order. This INR 15 is only one of the many components of the service fee.”
“Naturally, no active delivery partners in Hyderabad have made only INR 15 per order in the last four weeks. It is important to note that the service fee per order is based on multiple factors to adequately compensate our partners including distance travelled, waiting time, customer experience, shift completion and incentives. Regular competitive benchmarking shows that these are at par, if not higher than the industry standards.”
Regarding payouts for batched orders, the spokesperson claimed that the delivery partners are adequately compensated for every additional kilometre travelled. “In such cases, most delivery partners make an additional Rs 23 per batched order and incentives over and above this.”
Reduction in minimum wage per order was also one of the main grievances of Swiggy’s delivery executives in Chennai when they went on strike last month.
Swiggy Delivery Workers Strike In Chennai
The grievances of delivery executives protesting in Hyderabad are the same as those of delivery executives who protested in Chennai last month — the reduction in minimum wage per order from INR 35 to INR 15.
Swiggy’s statement given to Inc42 is similar to what the company’s spokesperson said last month, of INR 15 being one of the many components which make up the per order payout for the delivery partners.
“We have always maintained that our delivery partners are the backbone of Swiggy; more so in the current scenario where they have enabled us to serve millions of fellow citizens as an essential service. It is our constant endeavour to ensure that their service fee is sustainable even in the most difficult of times so that they are able to continue serving our consumers,” Swiggy had said in its statement last month.
A few days after delivery workers had gone on strike in Chennai, Swiggy told NDTV that the company had had a positive dialogue with the protesting delivery partners and was back to serving the entire city of Chennai with its fleet of workers.
Meanwhile, delivery executives aren’t the only ones bearing the brunt of pay cuts at Swiggy. Since May, the company has laid off more than 1,100 employees across all departments, due to the financial disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“In May, we began the exercise of realigning resources to create capacity in higher potential areas with the optimism of the business attaining pre-covid levels in the near-term. However, with the industry still only having recovered to about 50% of its peak, we have to, unfortunately, go ahead with this final realignment exercise, which will result in the net loss of 350 jobs. We are concluding the exercise we began late May and there are no plans for any further restructuring,” a Swiggy spokesperson told Inc42 in July after the company had announced layoffs for another 350 employees.